Have you heard? Middle-aged women are the most stressed-out people on the planet. So stop stressing. You’ll get old.
If you are mid-life, you are probably chronically stressed due to your children who are now teenagers, your parents needing care, our home is in consent need of repair and hubby, well, we love our hubbies, but most don’t know where the butter is, all creating the perfect storm – ageing!
What happens when we don’t manage stress?
When you’re stressed — emotionally or psychologically — your body goes into what’s colloquially called the “fight-or-flight response,” as it readies for, well, fighting or fleeing. However, it’s how we handle stress is key.
One way is the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland when you experience either physical or emotional stress.
Cortisol works to suppress nonessential-in-an-emergency functions, like your immune response, hair growth and digestion. The hormone also fuels the production of glucose, or blood sugar, boosting energy to the large muscles while inhibiting insulin production and narrowing arteries, which forces the blood to pump harder to aid our stressor response. This causes heightened levels of breathing and an increased heart rate. For example, when we do weight training or jogging – these are usually positive stressors.
Stress and Abdominal Fat
Unfortunately, when we don’t manage stress can lead to weight gain, especially in the abdominal region. Sometimes referred to as “stress belly,” women with exaggerated cortisol responses are more likely to gain excess abdominal fat.
Of course, there are many more reasons why people gain belly fat, such as poor diet and lack of exercise. Improving nutrition, increasing activity, reducing stress, and making other lifestyle changes can help us lose unwanted belly fat.
Stress and Inflammation
According to recent research, stress-related inflammation has been implicated in insomnia, late-life depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. While there is no one simple answer to reducing the stress that causes chronic inflammation, there are some remedies to help manage stress. For example, you can read up on stress management tips, talk to a trusted friend or family member, take yoga classes, practise meditation and deep breathing – these have shown to decrease some of these inflammatory side effects.
Lavender and Rosemary Essential Oils
Research conducted by the Department of Oral Physiology, Meikai University, School of Dentistry found that smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva.
GOOD STRESS VERSUS BAD STRESS
Examples of good stress include physical stress on muscles or the vasculature system, such as taking a fitness class. Or strengthen the psychological stress needed to take an exam or preparing for a sales presentation.
Examples of unhealthy stress include inadequate recovery from physical, mental and emotional stress of any kind. This could be related to constant worrying and repetitive thoughts of a negative nature, and even emotions such as depression and anxiety (Cleveland Clinic, 2017).
Ways to Reduce Stress
There are many research-backed ways to reduce stress, chief among them aerobic exercise, yoga, and meditation.
In June 2016 in the Journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found that people who meditated regularly had lower levels of cortisol. Individuals who meditated also had a less-pronounced inflammatory response in their bodies. Similar results have been linked to people who have regular yoga practice. A study published in January 2017 in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity found that regular yoga practice lowers cortisol levels and decreases inflammation.
Granted, the same stress-reduction method might not work for everyone and that every form of stress reduction does require patience. Patience, it seems, is the essential component. We need to learn how to change our response to situations and triggers in our environment.
Other stress relief techniques include:
- Talking with a friend
- Walking in the park or forest
- Breathing in lavender or scented candles
Note: This information is not intended to replace medical advice. We do not endorse any produce, process or service. Please read our Terms.